Self-care and balance have increasingly become a focus in our culture. It was trend like for a while and slowly has become a part of our lives that we hope to ‘strive for’ personally and now professionally.

Varying definitions will tell you what it means and what it should/could look like (I certainly have one) and ultimately it will be subjective and relevant to what makes sense for you.

Many of you by now may know for me, balance is key. And I don’t do this perfectly or consistently for that matter but I’m very aware of what this looks like in my life. Small things like how many hours I put in a day and my work week I specifically designed to create the balance and schedule I desire without compromising my service to those I support and the work I do.

In the workplace, what if prioritizing yourself to create more balance starts to turn heads?

I don’t mean in a good way either but the kind where Sally in Accounting is still plugging away at 6 pm and while you’re headed out the door she’s turning to Bob saying, “where does HE think he’s going while we’re still working?”

Balance, more harmony, better time management and reducing stress. They all invariably come up as priorities in client sessions coupled with how to sustain this in the long-term.

At the beginning of creating new habits in their time and schedule, doubt and insecurity have also surfaced. This was the case for one of my clients as he worked to start focusing more on himself.

Not his job. Not his team. Just him.

For him, this looked like this:

  • leaving work no later than 6 pm instead of 7:30 pm
  • getting back into the gym
  • making time for social connection during the week/weekend
  • incorporating meditation (15 min. /day)
  • reading 30 min. each day

Where leaving the office during regular working hours is uncommon for him, it created questions around his work ethic among other assumptions from colleagues and peers when his schedule began to shift. Creating doubt if he was doing the right thing for himself.

I’m not sure what’s worse.

Having been conditioned by our society that long hours at work and putting ourselves on the back burner is normal OR being condemned or gossiped about at work for choosing to put yourself first because THAT’S normal?

It’s the elephant in the room.

Everyone notices something different, there’s a shift at work, yet no one is addressing it because of a belief that’s run for so long in corporate that at work, you work. Prioritizing yourself doesn’t exist.

Where general well-being may be spoken about regularly and often across social media channels or even in our own workplaces, it’s not practiced often enough and it’s still not widely accepted.

We talk about it, we show benefits/consequences of what it can look like in our lives but we’re not always living it day in and day out.

When someone starts to make themselves a priority, it’s no surprise why it may make some people uncomfortable or begin to question, I wonder what they’re up to. At work or even in your personal life.

The future of work will look different for a reason. Not just due to the demands and expectations of a multi-generational workforce whose values are different from the previous generations, but also due to traditional ways of working, being and doing simply doesn’t work anymore.

Balance, self-care or prioritizing yourself so that work can fit in your life and not your life to fit into work aren’t just remedies to coping with mental health or to avoid a potential burn-out, but very much a way of living that fosters a life of well-being that is manageable and realistic.

While you don’t need anyone’s permission to put yourself at the top of the list of priorities, here are a few tips on what to say to a colleague or peer who’s curious about the shift in your schedule:

  • I’m adjusting my schedule to allow for more personal time
  • I like to lead by example and want to encourage my team that it’s OK to make themselves a priority
  • I’m creating more time in my schedule to make room for some other priorities I value
  • I’ve found I’m more productive at work when I create more room in my schedule for myself

Until we begin to accept that prioritizing ourselves above the other responsibilities we have (work, family, friends and so on) we will continue to find reasons to create more freedom and balance in our schedules and lives that only YOU are responsible for creating.

Putting you first allows us to be better humans and therefore better leaders, employees, partners, spouses, family members, friends and so on. Be the director of your life and lead it with care.

What does putting yourself first look like in your life? How can you demonstrate this at work and lead by example?

Let me know in the comments below!

Lisa ❤